From education to employment

Changing your story as an educator

Annie Pendrey Creating Educational Spaces Ltd and Initial Teacher Trainer

#EYPEN – Change the Story 

I often sit with a book or an academic journal and never start at the first page. I flip through the pages and start searching for a word to add to my vocabulary, then much to the authors horror I imagine, I highlight paragraphs, bend pages over at the corners, stick post it notes in colour order of priority reading, editing as I go along transferring key words into my inspirational journal.

Why do I do all this? I guess what I am trying to do is change the story to suit my needs.

This academic year, all this editing has witnessed me change my story and after many years in a variety of roles as an educator I have become freelance and formed Creating Educational Spaces Ltd.

Changing your story as an educator often occurs through reflective practice, reflecting in and on action and adopting different reflective lens.

However, for me this academic year, reflection led to much more, it led to a change in my story, a combination of Covid19, institutional factors and personal growth made me reconnect with the words of Lori Gottlieb and begin to edit the pages of my story.

Within my story, I have chosen to edit the characters, change the cast, move the scenery and rewrite the script and so this September my story has no learners, no timetable, no planning and no September throat, dry and sore from lectures and staff development.

The first chapter in a new story

Instead this September begins with a new page in a new story and it is fair to say a sense of loss is coupled with freedom, but with freedom comes new responsibilities and the need for courage and resilience to scribe the first chapter.

The first chapter begins with the word ‘ultracrepidarianism’, the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of your knowledge and from my love of words, research, and people I have now launched #EYPEN Early Years Professional Exchange Network.

This is a professional network where EY FE practitioners, assessors, EY teaching assistants and more can connect, give opinions, advise and inspire one another in a space created for educators to thrive and to work collaboratively in order to enhance and change the stories of young children and people. Each month is themed and will support professional development, provide a space for new business’s and ideas to grow and be rhizomatic in its essence.

An exchange of knowledge and pedagogical approaches

#EYPEN will offer FE EY subject specialists the opportunity to work with EY practitioner’s exchanging knowledge and pedagogical approaches in order to enhance their teaching, learning and assessment in developing the future EY workforce and in turn give EY practitioners an insight into the expectations and variety of vocational qualifications on offer in the sector.

#EYPEN is being launched (September 26th) by Dr Mine Conkbayir who will be discussing some of her work in the field of neuroscience and its implications for Early Years practice and child development, in addition to sharing her links to her award winning book and self-regulation app on the #EYPEN Padlet. It is fair to say, that I believe, her presentation will create much discussion and reflection for the workforce and allow FE tutors to consider how some of the themes discussed will impact upon their pedagogical approaches.

The event has captured a huge interest and joining me in the launch are a range of educators and wellbeing practitioners, Nicola Owen, Adam Chapman, Sarah Hutchins and Emma Davis and the list keeps growing.

In addition two FE EY tutors Fey Cole and Helin Taylor-Greenfield who share their thoughts about #EYPEN:

My name is Fey Cole and I work as an Early Years Lecturer in an FE/HE college in Northern Ireland:

Collaborating with others has always brought great benefit to my own learning and has allowed me to develop a range of new opportunities for the students I work with. Many of our projects have come from connections and developing links with international colleges and universities. This style of collaboration allows for wider perspectives to be developed by students and provides them with an informed understanding of evidence-based practice that benefits children within their early years.

When Annie introduced me to her vision for the network, I knew this was something I wanted to be involved in. The opportunity to bring a vast range of Early Years Professionals voices together, in an encouraging and enabling space, fitted in line with my own values and my commitment to the sector. Early Years is my vocation, it owns a piece of my heart and my professional role is a huge part of my identity. It has been over twenty years since I embarked on my own Nursery Nurse Apprenticeship training and since then I have continued to study formally, alongside my work, for seventeen of those years. There is always something new to learn and something new to give to our children. I also am aware of the many people who have supported and encouraged me throughout my journey so far. Those people gave me the confidence to be inquisitive and showed kindness when I was unsure of something. Those individuals gave me the space to develop, reflect and opened new doors for me.

The #EYPEN is a Network that draws on those key strengths and creates a nurturing and respectful exchange for all of us to learn further together, no matter where we are in our career or what position we find ourselves titled with. This network not only brings those working within the sector together, but also includes the families, young people and children that we work with. This is something very important to me in any discussions being brought forward that informs our practice. The last few months has shown us the importance of connections and I am very excited about the new possibilities that will come from us all working more closely together through the #EYPEN exchange to understand the research underpinning our responsibilities.

My name is Helin Taylor-Greenfield and I am first and foremost an NNEB who is currently working as an Early Years Lecturer and assessor in a large Sixth Form College in North East London:

Working in the specialism of early years in FE has reinforced the benefits of collaborative working for both my students, the team I work with and inevitably myself. I share ideas and aspirations with another team of early years lecturers and assessors, and we are planning future collaborations and cross-college projects. Many of my connections have arisen from conversations on Twitter, at conferences, with universities, with our partner-settings and actively seeking out informal CPD opportunities to meet my own specific development needs and interests, to in turn, meet those evidence and practice based needs and inquiries of my students.

Upon hearing of Annie’s idea for EYPEN, not being involved was never option, because the value, richness, and potential personal growth this professional exchange can offer the individual early year’s professionals who participate in it are vast. Being able to meet and share experiences, practice and ideas with like-minded professionals in a safe and supportive space, with shared values is exciting for me as a professional and is also the type of network that I hope that my early years educator students will become part of in the future once they qualify. Like them, I commenced my training at the tender age of sixteen and have held various roles within the sector since qualifying and have benefitted from the kindness and wisdom of many I have worked alongside over the years; the #EYPEN will allow us to each give something back to our amazing sector and pay forward the kindnesses afforded to us by others. The Early Years Professional Exchange Network will enable this ethos to develop and support collaborations to flourish.

I am excited to be part of a professional exchange network that values and respects not just one voice, but all voices, regardless of role, experience, or position, a space where we can each learn something from one another, continually. We are a sector that is often undervalued and overlooked, yet we support and nurture the world’s most value asset, its children; we inform the very foundations on which everything else follows … this exchange will enable us to thrive individually, collectively and in turn provide better outcomes for the children and young people in our care and within our classrooms.

Annie Pendrey, Founder, Creating Educational Spaces Ltd

The launch of #EYPEN is September 26th 10am -12pm and already we have delegates from the UK to Singapore. See you there! Annie

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